Turkey Day in Autumnhold!

I’m horrible for not updating, I know.  I have almost a gig of food pics and recipes that need to get put up here but I’ve gone back to school full time and it’s kickin’ my ass so here’s another try at attempting regular posting. :-þ~~

Thanksgiving was pretty typical in my family when I was growing up; grandparents, sometimes aunts, uncles, and cousins, my folks, and my sister sitting down to a big turkey dinner with all of the trimmings including a gods-awful Lime Jello Avocado Whipped Cream Salad Monstrosity of which we were forced to have at least two bites.

Now, being persona non grata with my blood family (except for two of my spawn), hubby and I like to make huge holiday potluck meals and invite friends over for food, fun, and games.  Holidays in general, but the fall holidays specifically, are (for me anyway) simply wonderful opportunities to spend time with my family of choice; my dear friends, my amazing husband Paul, and whichever spawn are in town and not doing the holiday with their father. 

Holidays, casual Dinner and Gaming gatherings, even the monthly Stitch ‘N Bitch that we’re looking into planning are time for friends to gather, create memories, and make those bonds of friendship as tight as unconditional love can make them.

This Thanksgiving I met two new people who are simply delightful   Hubby and I always ending up loving all of our dear Lady Sammo’s friends and last night was no different.  We hope to have the opportunity to hang out with these folks many times in the future!  We also reconnected with the now-grown son of another dear friend.  It’s funny how a boy can grow up so much in 8 years, don’t you think?  lol 

So it was a Thanksgiving like many others; a house full of people, piles of aluminum and ceramic dishes covered with foil, and my turkey in the oven.  Long story short, by the time my turkey was finely done, four people had had to leave so our dear Sammo and her crew of Ed, Julie, and Eric saved the night because they had brought over enough food to feed an army even without my turkey!  Thank you, Sammo!  😀

So let us start with the turkey, shall we? *note* None of these photos are mine because chaos visited our home last night and well… all but a couple of us had imbibed a bit and we were more interested in assembling the Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle than taking pictures.

Here goes nothin’!

Roasted Turkey with Brine

Via Alton Brown


  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 ½ teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


  1. 2 to 3 days before roasting:
  2. Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
  3. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  4. Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:
  5. Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
  6. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
  7. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
  8. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
  1. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

By the way, brining?  Totally worth the effort!


Mashed Maple Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh – Food Network



  • 6 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pecan Crumb Topping, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until very soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel them by hand and put the flesh in the bowl of a mixer. Using a paddle attachment, mix in the lemon zest and juice, maple syrup and brown sugar.
  3. Place the bourbon in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Let it come just to the boil and then tilt the pan slightly towards you to set it aflame*. Add to the potatoes along with the butter. Mix well. Add salt and pepper and transfer to a 13 by 9-inch oven-safe casserole dish. (Recipe can be made to this point up to 2 days before, refrigerated.) Sprinkle topping over potatoes and bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Pecan Crumb Topping:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 5 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into bits
  1. Mix the flour, brown sugar, salt, pepper, thyme and pecans together in a small bowl.
  2. Add the butter and work with your fingers until a crumbly mass forms.


Rowan’s Gramma’s Orange Dinner Rolls

Gloria Woods (My grandmother and my hero;  smart ass, poker shark, crafter, quilter, frugal living queen, and a person from whom anyone could learn unconditional love.)


  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • Dash salt
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Zest of 1 large orange (or 2 small oranges)
  • 2 packages of yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour


  1. In a small sauce pan mix milk, shortening, salt, and sugar.  Heat milk to scalding, stirring constantly until shortening melts.
  2. Pour milk mixture into the work bowl of the mixer and allow to cool to between 110 degrees and 115 degrees. 
  3. Add orange juice and turn the mixer on using the dough hook.  Add three cups of flour and the yeast.  Add orange peel and continue to add flour until the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the walls of the bowl. 
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl.  Shape the dough into a ball and press gently into the bowl then tilt the bowl and drop the dough into your hand, oil side up.  Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, oil side up, and then cover with plastic wrap.  Put the bowl in a warm place and let rise until doubled.
  5. Punch down dough and pull of pieces to shape as you wish for the rolls. 
    1. Gramma would take about 2 ounces of dough and divide it into three pieces and roll them into balls then tuck them into a greased muffin pan so when baked, one would have a delightful clover shaped roll that pulled apart for easy buttering.
    2. I’m lazy, or more typically, crazy busy so I take a 2 ounce piece of dough and shape it into a ball and set it on a lightly greased cookie sheet (Don’t use parchment paper!  The rolls stick!  Trust me on this… ).
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Let shaped rolls rise again until doubled then bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and done.


Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Adapted from Lil’ Devil who adapted from Paula Deen

**NOTE** This recipe is not nearly as sweet as one might expect.  The I reduced the sugar in the cake by approximately 1/2.  The only sugar in the pudding mixture was from the vanilla pudding mix (I used plain pumpkin and added my own pie spice blend because the store was out of pumpkin pie mix.  It was such a success that I’ll do the same for Yule!) The whipped cream has very little sugar in added in the whipping process so as a whole this dessert can be made to be very sweet but made according to my directions, it is delightfully light.



  • 1 recipe Gingerbread Cake (see below)
  • 1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix (cook and serve is more stable than the cold mix method.  The pudding does not separate nearly as easily as it can with the cold method.)
  • 1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 quart heavy/whipping cream (stiffly whipped with a touch of sugar and a bit of lemon or lime juice to taste)
  • 1 box gingersnaps, (crushed into fairly large crumbs) optional


  1. Bake the gingerbread according to the recipe; cool completely.  (Cake can be made up to two days in advance.)
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding.
  3. Cut gingerbread cake in half.  Cut each half into approximately 1 x 1 inch cubes and spread ½ of the cubed cake into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl.
  4. Pour ½ of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, and then add a layer of whipped cream.  Sprinkle 1/2 of gingersnap crumbs.
  5. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping.
  6. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the crushed gingersnaps, if desired.
  7. Paula says this can be refrigerated overnight and it really is good the next day but read the note below; trifle assembly can be a great group activity! lol
  8. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.  Serves: 20 servings

**  NOTE ** 

Last night, with a house full of people who had been … shall we say, imbibing of the MJ?  We were sitting about, waiting for the turkey to finish, when somehow the topic of the assembly of the trifle came up (I’m a little foggy on the details cuz Blue Magoo kicked my brain out of whack) and Sammo said something like, “Let’s put it together!  Group project time!”

So in the spirit of playing with our food, making a delightful dessert, and stony teamwork, I brought out the cake, cutting boards, and butter knives (we’re not idiots, you know. :-þ~), Sammo, Julie, and I sat down and got to work cubing cake while hubby Paul started the KitchenAid whipping the cream, and the others looked on around the table.  

We got our hands covered in rich gingerbready crumbs of goodness then layered in the pudding and had some nibbles of cake and pudding while we waited for the whipped cream.    We crushed the gingersnaps with marble rolling pins,played with our food, and generally had a blast assembling one of the most delicious desserts that I’ve ever had the pleasure of wrapping my lips around.

I highly recommend that you pre-make the cake, pudding mix, and whipped cream, get your friends together, and make putting this dessert together a group project then devour it!  It’s great fun, sober or not.  This is something that I’ll remember for years!  😀

Gingerbread Cake

Adapted from Food Network

(Used in Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle)


  • Softened unsalted butter, as needed
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½  cup sugar
  • 1 cup un-sulphured molasses
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda 

*Optional:Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream


  1. Lightly butter a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, molasses, and crystallized ginger. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Whisk the molasses mixture into the flour mixture until evenly combined.
  4. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Whisk the hot water into the batter until just combined. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake in the center of the oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.

*Optional: Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

And here is the recipe that I’d left out on the table with the intention of making it for Thanksgiving but never got around to it.  Julie spotted it and was immediately enamored with it so I promised to get her a copy.  Here ya go, Julie!  Enjoy!  😀

Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman

Image Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything



  • 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cups lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix butter and brown sugar until well combined. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add oats and flour to butter/sugar mixture and mix to combine. Press half of oat crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 11 inch pan. You can use a 9 x 13 pan; it will just be thinner.
  3. Mix together condensed milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread onto the bottom layer of the crumb mixture. The other half of the crumb mixture mix and knead together with clean hands so that the butter that you added earlier gets incorporated then crumble on top of lemon layer but don’t press.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Allow pan to sit on counter for 30 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until cool.
  6. Serve cool. Makes around one dozen.


As a final note, hug those you love, hug those who love you.  Hug someone you’ve never hugged before and bask in the love we can all share.  Love that has nothing to do lust and everything to do with finding the joy and the divine in those around us.


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